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Allendale Duo Restores Confidence In Cancer Patients

BeautifulSelf founder Jillian Veran Rezo says she looks at this photograph of herself whenever she has "a really bad day" because it helps her remember who she is.
BeautifulSelf founder Jillian Veran Rezo says she looks at this photograph of herself whenever she has "a really bad day" because it helps her remember who she is. Photo Credit: BeautifulSelf
Michele Bonacorte.
Michele Bonacorte. Photo Credit: Michele Bonacorte
Amanda Fredericks of Ramsey.
Amanda Fredericks of Ramsey. Photo Credit: BeautifulSelf
BeautifulSelf client Lisa Mitchell.
BeautifulSelf client Lisa Mitchell. Photo Credit: BeautifulSelf
Rezo keeps her original BeautifulSelf photograph above her bed. "That's who you are," she says to herself. "Don't forget that."
Rezo keeps her original BeautifulSelf photograph above her bed. "That's who you are," she says to herself. "Don't forget that." Photo Credit: Jillian Veran Rezo
Bernadette Vargas of Fair Lawn.
Bernadette Vargas of Fair Lawn. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Michele Bonacorte.
Amanda Fredericks launched "Necessity Bags," which are tool kits for people going through chemotherapy.
Amanda Fredericks launched "Necessity Bags," which are tool kits for people going through chemotherapy. Photo Credit: BeautifulSelf
Vargas was the recipient of the Santa Boone project in Fair Lawn.
Vargas was the recipient of the Santa Boone project in Fair Lawn. Photo Credit: BeautifulSelf

ALLENDALE, N.J. — Jillian Veran Rezo was nearly there.

The 51-year-old Midland Park native had almost completed the climb back to her normal, everyday life after losing her job in 2011.

That's when more misfortune struck — this time, it was a much bigger battle.

Rezo was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 2013, which had already spread to her lymph nodes.

At the time, she was returning to work almost two years after being laid off as a high-power cosmetic executive.

She felt weak. She felt lost.

Rezo didn't feel like herself.

Naturally, she called her friend — Michele Bonacorte of Allendale.

They played some dress-up and took some pictures. It wasn't long before the pair launched BeautifulSelf to help other women.

“What cancer does to the feminine ego and structure is horrible,” said Rezo, an international beauty authority for Laura Geller on QVC.

It does all these things to humiliate and drag you down — to tell you you’re not beautiful.

"This is the new you and you have to figure out how to live with it."

The nonprofit organization helps women battling cancer accept their "new selves."

“It’s about loving you for who you are now,” Rezo said. “It’s hard to see it when your body’s been shredded.”

Dozens have been photographed already, including Fair Lawn breast cancer survivor Bearn Vargas and Ramsey breast cancer survivor Amanda Fredericks.

“Whenever each woman comes in front of my camera, my desire is to bring out their mojo — it's become my mission and my passion," Bonacorte added.

"We all have it within us, and to revoke it is a gift.”

CLICK HERE to donate to the cause.

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